My Itchy Travel Feet | The Baby Boomer's Guide To Travel

Listening To Montana

2011/09/13by Donna Hull

fishtail-montana-lodging

Mystic Rose Cabin, Fishtail, Montana

In your boomer travels, has a place ever spoken to you? On arrival at a destination, did it feel as if you belonged in that very spot? Did your heart beat faster when a voice from somewhere deep inside you said, “This is my paradise“? That’s what happened to me when Alan drove our car down the driveway to Mystic Rose Cabin near Fishtail, Montana.

Alan says my eyes lit up the moment we arrived. I bounded out of the car in a burst of energy to take in the view of the Beartooth Mountains. It wasn’t the cabin itself, which is a modest log structure meant for vacationing, not at all like the home away from home that we discovered at SweetSage Guest House in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley.

So why did I go all gaga over a simple log cabin that serves as shelter for hunters, fishermen, outdoor enthusiasts and boomers looking for a relaxing getaway?

It Was The View From The Deck

deck-view-mystic-rose-cabin-montana

Beartooth Mountains from the deck

In the mornings, I’d sit on that wooden paradise drinking a hot cup of coffee, my itchy travel feet propped on the railing. I’d watch deer grazing in the field to the accompaniment of water gurgling in West Rosebud River, just down the hill. Beyond the deer’s playground, rolls of baled hay were scattered across the land like pieces of a giant’s chess game — some bales stood straight and tall, while others were tipped on their side as if the giant had knocked them over in a fit of anger because he lost the game. Beyond the fields, majestic mountains touched the sky — the Beartooth Mountains. If I had the wherewithal to climb over the crest, I’d be gazing at the natural glory of Yellowstone National Park.

In the afternoons, I’d watch the dark cloud drama of thunderstorms gathering across the mountains when nature put on an electrical show just for me. Suddenly a lightning bolt pierced the edge of an alpine peak followed by a clap of thunder that reverberated throughout the valley. No longer considering the deck a paradise, I scurried inside to the safety of sturdy log construction.

Becoming One With The View

east-rosebud-drainage-alpine-montana

East Rosebud River

Alan and I took early morning walks down empty dirt roads, waving to the occasional neighbor motoring by on their way to who knows where or campers turning onto West Rosebud Road for the 14-mile journey to the campground near Mystic Lake.

On rambling drives, we’d discover modest houses, vacation cabins teetering on stilts near a river’s edge, tractors raking strands of hay into giant rolls and horses galloping across the thousand-acre ranch of some mighty mogul. On our way back to the cabin, we’d stop for dinner at off-the-beaten-path eateries like Grizzly Bar and Restaurant in Roscoe or Montana Jack’s down the road from the cabin in Nye.

Civilization resides just 6 miles north of Mystic Rose Cabin at Fishtail, where a general store is the glue that holds the community together. You can find most anything in that store from hunting supplies to local crafts to a surprisingly fine bottle of wine. Two buildings away, we’d order ham and eggs, pancakes on a separate plate please, at the Cowboy Bar while eavesdropping on the conversation between the waitress and other patrons. Were they boomer retirees looking for a back-to-nature home or third-generation ranchers scrabbling to hold onto the land?

A View I Could Live With

deck-view-montana

Taking in the view at Mystic Rose Cabin

I could live here, if the winters weren’t so rough, if Costco were closer, if Fishtail had a Chico’s and a Starbucks — if, if, if.

I’d learn to ride a horse. I’d stand in the river wearing waders fly-fishing with the best of them. I’d hike into the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness to the jingling of bells tied onto my shoes to scare away the grizzlies. I’d feel the cold spray on my face from a rafting trip down the Stillwater River. I’d stand outside on a cool summer night to view the Milky Way smeared across the dark sky, billions of stars making up that long, white blur that city dwellers never see. But, mostly, I’d sit on a deck with a killer view, tapping out stories on the laptop’s keyboard about a land that holds sway over this boomer writer.

Has a destination ever spoken to you? Post a comment to tell us about it. Alan and I couldn’t resist Montana’s call, so we’ve moved part-time to the Bitterroot Valley, where the  weather’s a bit kinder and gentler than Fishtail, but the view from our deck is just as inspiring.

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A boomer travel and lifestyle authority who is exploring the world one activity at a time. Besides writing and publishing My Itchy Travel Feet, she also writes about boomer travel for My Well-Being Powered by Humana, Make It Missoula and is the author of My Itchy Travel Feet: Breathtaking Adventure Vacation Ideas.

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Jackie Smith
Twitter:
September 13, 2011 at 6:25 am

Donna, just had to say I loved this post! So many times on our boomer travels we have had a place speak to us: Loutro, on Crete’s southern coast while watching the small town wake for the day, or morning coffee from the cabin deck at Stehekin, at the base of the North Cascades in our own state. . .it seems each place says, “You could be happy here” for a much longer time than the trip allows.
Maybe that’s why we love travel so much – it allows us to pretend that for a short period of time we do live somewhere else and our concept of ‘home’ is no longer that of where we return, but where we are.
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 13, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Jackie, your eloquent comment says it all. I totally agree. Glad you liked the post.

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Debbie Beardsley
Twitter:
September 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I could live with that view too! I love Montana.
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 13, 2011 at 2:11 pm

So do we. Alan and I have barely started our Montana explorations. Be looking for more posts from this beautiful state.

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Melanie
Twitter:
September 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm

I feel that way about the Motueka/Abel Tasman area of New Zealand. I live in the Bay of Islands in Northland, NZ, which is hardly a wasteland, but something about Abel Tasman is absolutely magical to me…
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Melanie, I can see why you would feel that way about Abel Tasman, it’s a beautiful place.

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Vera Marie Badertscher
Twitter:
September 13, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Donna: This is a superbly beautiful post. You really take us there. And yes, the island of Siphnos in Greece did it for me when we visited briefly on a sailing trip. (Crete is superb, too, Jackie). And we just had to go back years later to stay for longer. Although I never would want to actually pull of stakes and live in Greece long term, I want to go back again and again, and when I’m there have to shake myself and say sternly,” No, this is NOT where you come from.”
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 11:39 am

Vera, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Falling in love with a place is fun. I’ve yet to visit Greece. Do you think I will fall in love with it, too?

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Alexandra September 13, 2011 at 5:38 pm

I think it must be the water gurgling. I stayed at a place near Geneva once, and there was a fountain outside, a natural spring, and it gurgled all night. Have never slept so well.
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 11:40 am

Yes, the sound of water leads to a good sleep. It’s one reason that I enjoy cruising. With Fishtail, I think it’s those great big mountains that call my name.

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sheryl September 13, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Beautiful indeed. I must get to Montana one day! How nice you were able to live your dream…

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 11:41 am

Montana is a beautiful state, Sheryl. Especially the mountainous sections.

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Abby September 13, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Absolutely stunning. Those colors don’t even look real!
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 11:41 am

Glad you enjoyed the photos, Abby. We lucked out with the sunny days.

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Fida
Twitter:
September 13, 2011 at 9:17 pm

This is absolutely beautiful, in word and picture. That would be a place to live, not just to visit ;)
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Sophie
Twitter:
September 14, 2011 at 12:31 am

The ‘big country’ of the American northwest has always fascinated me. I’ve not been to Montana yet – your photos are gorgeous. And I know what you mean; I’ve felt at home in some odd and unexpected places, most seem to be in or near mountains.
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Kris
Twitter:
September 14, 2011 at 12:31 am

But, if Fishtail had a Costco and a Starbucks, it wouldn’t have spoken to you thus! ;) It’s just beautiful – I can see why you were enchanted.
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Lauren September 14, 2011 at 2:28 am

I am so desperate to visit Montana! Beautiful photos.
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 11:41 am

Where would you go on a visit to Montana?

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Living Large September 14, 2011 at 4:08 am

Yes. A place has spoken to me and we’re here Living Large. Believe me, you get used to the absence of Starbucks and Costco. Those things become really special on monthly ventures to the city. :)
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 11:42 am

I agree, Kerri. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s time to come down from my hill in Montana’s Bitterroots.

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NoPotCoooking
Twitter:
September 14, 2011 at 4:53 am

I love your enthusiasm for Montana! Several places have spoken to me, so how to choose? Scotland had me in tears. Maine, Hawaii, and Sedona AZ all are special places to me.
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Donna Hull
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September 23, 2011 at 11:42 am

Brette, I have a feeling that Scotland would affect me in much the same way.

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Susan September 14, 2011 at 9:03 am

Ooo, those views look positively spectacular!! I agree with you, though, while I love the views, I’d probably miss signs of civilization like Starbucks.

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 11:43 am

Civilization does have its perks, Susan. I trip to Starbucks once in awhile is a highlight in my life :-).

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Roxanne
Twitter:
September 14, 2011 at 9:11 am

This pix are to die for. I’ve only been to Montana once. I. Loved. It. Reminded me of Colorado when I was a kid.
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Donna Hull
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September 23, 2011 at 11:44 am

There are lots of similarities between Montana and Colorado, although I think Montana has bigger skies :-).

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Jane Boursaw
Twitter:
September 14, 2011 at 4:38 pm

I feel calmer just looking at that view. I’m not sure a destination has ever called to me in that way, though I love where I’m living so much that perhaps *this is my destination. :-)
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Donna Hull
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September 23, 2011 at 11:44 am

Jane, being born in the destination that is right for you means you’ll always be happy where you are.

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Margo September 14, 2011 at 5:47 pm

nice story, Donna! Now that’s a real vacation. I’ve got a couple of places that make me feel this way and you’ve captured it beautifully.
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 11:45 am

Thanks for the kind words, Margo. I appreciate them.

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Alisa Bowman September 15, 2011 at 5:55 am

I love the idea of sitting on a deck with coffee. That’s my idea of a perfect morning–and I’ll take it anywhere I can get it. Occasionally I feel as if where I live is just as beautiful as anywhere else. But today it’s pouring rain, so I’m going to pretend I am inside your photos for a second.
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 11:45 am

Glad my photos brightened up your day, Alisa.

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wandering educators
Twitter:
September 16, 2011 at 8:48 am

HOW gorgeous. i think i need to visit!!
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 11:47 am

Jessie, you would enjoy Montana.

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MyKidsEatSquid September 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm

I love the Great Lakes area. But these pictures are so beautiful–no wonder you’ve decided to spend the better part of your time here.
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 11:47 am

Kristen, I haven’t visited the Great Lakes yet. Need to them to our travel list.

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Mark H September 16, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Looks like absolute paradise. The last photo captures the beauty of the place completely – relaxing, feet up with natural wonder 360 degrees around you.
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 11:47 am

Glad you enjoyed the photos and post, Mark. It is my paradise.

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Robert Fowler
Twitter:
September 17, 2011 at 6:18 am

Donna, this is a great post. It makes me want to book a trip to Montana. We visited Montana for a couple of weeks and drove the whole state and stayed in 4 of the lodges in Glacier National Park, but I think next time just settling in a cabin with gorgeous views like this would be the ticket.

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 11:48 am

Robert, I envy your stay in the Glacier Lodges. We’re definitely doing that during our time here. Maybe next year.

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ruth pennebaker September 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Lovely, lovely post, Donna.
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 11:48 am

Thanks, Ruth.

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Sherry Ott
Twitter:
September 17, 2011 at 11:16 pm

I love this Donna! It’s wonderful when you find your Zen place! Those views are hard to resist. I think my places that speak to me are Mongolia and Nepal…also for the views. But also for the simplicity.
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 11:49 am

Sherry, I never thought of it as a Zen place, but you are right. I think I would feel the same way in Nepal and Mongolia.

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NLM
Twitter:
September 18, 2011 at 5:45 am

When I see photos like these, I almost think I could live in Montana–but I’m kind of a wimp about the cold, so maybe just a loooong visit! (Although I am going to Antarctica in December….)

Thanks. Stay happy.
Nancy
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 11:49 am

Thanks for posting, Nancy. Antarctica is at the top of my bucket list, cold or not.

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merr September 18, 2011 at 8:24 am

Yes, yes, yes…some places simply resonate in a way that others places do not. And you know it when you see it.

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Dyan October 18, 2011 at 9:55 pm

When we stepped off the plane in Billings, Montana, I felt like I could breathe for the first time in my life. I would move there in a minute if I could talk my husband into it.

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
October 24, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Dyan, I feel the same way about Montana. The Billings area is beautiful.

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